The Blind Leading the Blind

Posted by in June's Magazine

And so, Vince Cable’s transformation is complete. Addressing the GMB union at the beginning of June, the business secretary stated that if the “usual suspects” decided to call for industrial action in the summer, the pressure on the government to act in order to avert such action would be ratcheted up. What he really meant was that if unions decided to take action to protect their members’ jobs, pensions pay and conditions, then the government would introduce new, tough anti-union laws to prevent them from doing so.

This is the same man who, only just over a year ago, stated that whoever was to win the general election, their first priority should be to protect those people who had become the victims of the biggest financial crime in this country’s history which had been perpetrated by the banks. He called for the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays to be split up to, in his own words, “stop the tail of investment banking wagging the dog of traditional banking.” On bankers’ bonuses he said: “The taxpayer has already been landed with a bill of over £500million as a result of RBS guarantees on one of the Goldman deals. What really sticks in the craw is that this year the same bank plans to hand tens of thousands of pounds to each of its employees in bonuses.” And he argued that cash bonuses for bankers should be limited to £2,500. He pleaded that, “the next government must assert control, or we will be exposed to all the risks of a horribly unbalanced economy centred on one square mile in London.”



As you all know, following the general election, Cable and a number of his spineless, supine and obnoxious fellow traitors in the Liberal party (step forward Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore) became members of the cabinet and you would have expected, given their pre-election rhetoric, that they would set about reigning in the bankers and demanding protection for the millions of people in this country who are now suffering because of those very bankers’ criminal actions. But what did they actually do?

In January this year, after months in which a series of government ministers had again threatened a toughening in the stance over City bonuses, Downing Street said the government did not intend to intervene in the pay of the UK’s top bankers. That one square mile in London, which Cable had his sights on, basically told the government to piss off and mind its own business. In effect, Cable and his Lib Dem cronies had been told to bend over by the bankers’ best friend, Chancellor George Osborne and, without a whimper, they complied. But Cable seems to have taken the shafting from his Tory masters with relish and is now quite content to adopt their right-wing mantle and attack the trade unions.

IO million in poverty
Now the right-wing press in this country would have you believe that the unions are stuck in the 1970s and are simply intent on causing disruption because they don’t happen to like the hue of the present government. That, quite frankly, is a desperate attitude which ignores the facts about the state that this country is really in. It’s a well worn argument but it’s irrefutable – the banks brought this country (and others around the world) to its knees yet it’s the people who go to work every day as cleaners, carers, nurses, teachers, etc, and pay their taxes that rescued those banks and kept the country afloat. And now, while the bankers and feeble politicians revert to type, what of those people? Well here’s food for thought.

There is an ongoing debate about what ‘poverty’ means and how to measure it. However, most commentators agree that poverty needs to be understood in relation to typical living standards in society. This is a widely-used definition from Professor Peter Townsend:

“Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities, and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or are at least widely encouraged and approved, in the societies in which they belong.”

That sounds like a fair enough definition to me. Well currently, in the country in which you live, where bankers reward themselves with huge cash bonuses for taking the kind of risks which almost bankrupted the country previously, and politicians sit back and allow them to do so, 13.5 million people are living in poverty. And before anyone starts taking the Daily Mail/Telegraph line about benefit scroungers, 1.47 million people are currently claiming Jobseekers Allowance and 2.6 million people are claiming incapacity benefit. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that all of those people are chancers (which they’re not of course), that still leaves almost 10 million working people, many with children, living in poverty.

The trade unions will, quite rightly, be defending those workers to the hilt and if Vince Cable thinks that veiled threats will stop them from doing so, the shafting that he took from George Osborne really has rendered him senseless.



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